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Privacy, pulverized: NSA, GCHQ can bypass online encryption, new Snowden leak reveals

RT

The latest top-secret documents leaked to the media by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden reveal that United States and British spy agencies have invested billions of dollars towards efforts to make online privacy obsolete.

The New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica all reported on Thursday that newly released Snowden documents expose the great lengths that the National Security Agency and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, have gone to in order to eavesdrop on encrypted Internet communications.

According to the latest Snowden leak, the NSA and its British counterpart have circumvented the encryption methods used to secure emails, chats and essentially most Internet traffic that was previously thought to be protected from prying eyes.

The price tag for such an endeavor, the Guardian reported, is around a quarter-of-a-billion dollars each year for just the US, and involves not just intricate code-breaking, but maintaining partnerships with the tech companies that provide seemingly secure online communication outlets.

The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that Internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments,” James Ball, Julian Borger and Glenn Greenwald reported for the Guardian.

Outside of the shadowy collaboration with Silicon Valley companies, the governments have also reportedly employed supercomputers capable of decrypting codes commonly used by the most popular online protocols, including HTTPS, voice-over-IP and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

For the past decade, NSA has lead [sic] an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies,” a 2010 GCHQ document referenced by the Guardian reads. “Vast amounts of encrypted Internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable.”

With regards to reaching that goal through private-sector cooperation, the Guardian reported that the NSA works with tech companies to “covertly influence” their products.

So significant is the leak, the Times and ProPublica reported, that intelligence officials asked that the documents not be published in fear that the disclosures would prompt surveillance targets, such as terrorist organization, to alter the way they communicate online.

In an editorial published alongside the scoop this week by ProPublica, reporters Stephen Engelberg and Richard Tofel said the outlet decided to go ahead with the story because “It shows that the expectations of millions of Internet users regarding the privacy of their electronic communications are mistaken.”

News of the agency’s vast code-breaking capabilities comes just weeks following the shuttering of no fewer than two Internet services that provided encrypted email for paying customers.

Last month, the founder of email provider Lavabit announced that he was shutting down his company because staying in business would likely force him “to become complicit in crimes against the American people.”

Our government can order us to do things that are morally and ethically wrong, order us to spy on other Americans and then order us, using the threat of imprisonment, to keep it all secret,” Levison told RT.

The next day, competitor Silent Circle announced they’d be suspending their encrypted email service as well.

In the three months since Snowden fled the US and began leaking classified documents to the media, a number of international outlets have published revelations made possible by the analysis of top-secret files. According to the Times, Snowden supplied reporters with 50,000 documents, and the Guardian’s Greenwald said at least dozens were, in his opinion, newsworthy.

The latest revelation comes days after the media began reporting on the leaked US intelligence “black budget” supplied by Snowden. In that document, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper prefaced an executive summary by saying that America is “investing in groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit Internet traffic.”

According to the secret funding request, the US Consolidated Cryptologic Program asked for $11 billion in fiscal year 2013 towards covert, code-breaking programs.

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Classified docs: US executes cyber and spy ops, fears intelligence breach

by Carlos Latuff

Al Ahed news

The US government suspects that roughly one out of every five individuals applying for jobs in the US intelligence community has connections with “hostile” groups, according to a classified budget document.

The US intelligence agencies reinvestigated thousands of employees in a bid to minimize the risk of disclosure of secrets, according to the document, which was provided to The Washington Post by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Last year, the NSA planned to launch around 4,000 investigations of potentially suspicious employees, who downloaded multiple documents or accessed classified databases they did not normally use for their work, the newspaper said citing two people familiar with the software used to monitor employee activity.

Despite their multimillion-dollar effort to hunt for potential insider threats, the spy agencies’ detection systems did not notice that Snowden was copying highly classified documents from different parts of the NSA’s networks, the Post pointed out.

Snowden, who in June revealed NSA’s spying activities on American citizens and foreign nationals, managed to flee to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he remains after being granted temporary asylum.

Moreover, the newspaper revealed that United States has increased its spying operation on Pakistan, a US regional ally, according to top-secret budget documents. In a series of revelations that have put the US intelligence community under a spotlight, The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the CIA has expanded its effort to gather intelligence on Pakistan in a bid to address US concerns about “biological and chemical sites” in the Asian country.

The operation was also seeking “to assess the loyalties of counterterrorism sources recruited by the CIA,” the newspaper said citing the 178-page summary of the US intelligence community’s “black budget.”

“Pakistan appears at the top of charts listing critical US intelligence gaps. It is named as a target of newly formed analytic cells. And fears about the security of its nuclear program are so pervasive that a budget section on containing the spread of illicit weapons divides the world into two categories: Pakistan and everybody else,” the Post said.

Washington has given Islamabad $26 billion in aid over the past 12 years, seeking the Pakistani support in its war against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

“If the Americans are expanding their surveillance capabilities, it can only mean one thing,” the Post quoted Husain Haqqani, who until 2011 served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, as saying. “The mistrust now exceeds the trust.”

US spy services also carried out 231 “offensive cyber-operations” in 2011 alone, targeting Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, according to the documents.

Under an extensive effort code-named GENIE, US computer specialists break into foreign networks so that they can be put under surreptitious US control. Budget documents say the $652 million project has placed “covert implants,” sophisticated malware transmitted from far away, in computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands of machines every year, with plans to expand those numbers into the millions.

WikiLeaks’ Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison

Press TV

US Army Private Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified US documents to WikiLeaks.

“You are sentenced to 35 years and ordered to be dishonorably discharged,” military judge Colonel Denise Lind said in a short statement on Wednesday.

Last month, the 25-year-old soldier was found guilty on five counts of violating the Espionage Act for leaking the secret documents to the anti-secrecy group in 2010.

The private, however, was acquitted of the aiding the enemy charge, which was the most serious of his charges.

On Monday, prosecutors asked for a 60-year jail term for Manning. However, Manning’s defense attorney David Coombs appealed for leniency because he had cooperated with the court.

Meanwhile, a group of people gathered outside the gate of Fort George G. Meade, Maryland to protest against Manning’s sentencing.

Manning has admitted to disclosing over 470,000 documents related to Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables and other material, including several battlefield video clips which brought major embarrassment to the US government after WikiLeaks published most of the material online.

In a sentencing session earlier this month, Manning apologized for unintended consequence of leaking the documents to WikiLeaks.

“I am sorry for unintended consequence of my actions. When I made these decisions, I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people … I’m sorry that my actions hurt people. I’m sorry that they hurt the United States. At the time of the decision, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues, issues that are ongoing,” Manning said.

The American whistleblower, who was an intelligence analyst at a US base near Baghdad, was detained in Iraq in 2010 and has been in military custody ever since.

The administration of President Barack Obama has come under widespread criticism by freedom of speech advocates for what they call waging a war on whistleblowers.

“Barack Obama has proceeded with more prosecutions against whistleblowers for espionage than all previous presidents combined going all the way back to 1917,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said last month. “In fact he’s done double.”

Charges have been laid against seven current or former federal government employees or contractors for disclosing government secrets since Obama took office in 2009.

They include Edward Snowden, John Kiriakou, Jeffrey Sterling, Bradley Manning, Thomas Drake, Stephen Kim, and Shamai Leibowitz. In each case, the charges were brought under the Espionage Act of 1917.

This is while prior to the Obama administration, the Espionage Act had been used only three times against five individuals.

US seeks 60-Year prison sentence for Manning

Al Ahed news

An American military judge will begin on Tuesday to deliberate the sentence she will hand down to the American soldier Bradley Manning for leaking classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks.

Manning faces up to 90 years in prison for leaking over 700,000 US military and diplomatic cables and videos of the murder of civilians to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Manning’s attorney David Coombs mentioned on this note that any prison term shouldn’t exceed 25 years because the classification of some of the documents leaked expires in 25 years.

“He betrayed the United States and for that betrayal, he deserves to spend the majority of his remaining life in confinement,” the prosecutor, Captain Joe Morrow said.

“Perhaps his biggest crime was that he cared about the loss of life and that he couldn’t ignore it,” Coombs noted in the closing arguments of Manning’s trial.

Manning took the stand last week and apologized for hurting his country, believing that he did what he did because he wanted to change the world not hurt anyone.

UK destroys Guardian hard drives to stop Snowden publications

by Carlous Latuff

Al Ahed news “Security experts” raided the British Guardian’s office and destroyed hard drives to stop publications of documents leaked by former NSA contractor whistleblower Edward Snowden. The daily along with the Washington Post had published classified documents on the tight surveillance that the American National Security Agency (NSA) has over citizens worldwide and in the US and revealed monitoring of internet activities, which sparked debate among Americans and worldwide governments. The US administration claims that this surveillance aims at stopping potential terrorist threats and plots, however controversy questions how effective this surveillance when it comes to monitoring activities made on the internet. On this note, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger wrote in the Monday issue of the paper that the British government officials watched as computers containing classified information passed on by Snowden were physically destroyed in one of the newspaper building’s basements. The officials had ordered Guardian employees to destroy the paper’s hard drives in an attempt to halt further publications of the Snowden documents. “Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that [reporter Glenn] Greenwald lived in Brazil?” Rusbridger wrote. Rusbridger further pointed out that “the whole incident felt like a pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age.” This “security” procedure comes after Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was held at London’s Heathrow airport under the UK Terrorism Act for nine hours before being released without pressing charges. Moreover, Rusbridger promised that the paper “will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London. The seizure of Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald’s work.” Greenwald, who first published secrets leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, had also promised to release more documents. He added that the UK would be “sorry” for detaining his partner for nine hours. Snowden, who has been granted asylum by Russia, gave Greenwald up to 20,000 documents with details about the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ surveillance operations. The latest release of top-secret documents revealed last week by the Washington Post that the NSA has broken privacy rules thousands of times each year since 2008.

Bradley Manning tells court public have the right to know about US war crimes: Video

NY Times: Blurred line between espionage and truth

by David Carr, New York Times, source

Last Wednesday in the White House briefing room, the administration’s press secretary, Jay Carney, opened on a somber note, citing the deaths of Marie Colvin and Anthony Shadid, two reporters who had died “in order to bring truth” while reporting in Syria.

Jake Tapper of ABC News questioned the Obama administration’s efforts to prosecute officials.

Thomas A. Drake, a former employee of the National Security Agency, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act last year.
Jake Tapper, the White House correspondent for ABC News, pointed out that the administration had lauded brave reporting in distant lands more than once and then asked, “How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop “aggressive” journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistle-blowers to court?”
He then suggested that the administration seemed to believe that “the truth should come out abroad; it shouldn’t come out here.”
Fair point. The Obama administration, which promised during its transition to power that it would enhance “whistle-blower laws to protect federal workers,” has been more prone than any administration in history in trying to silence and prosecute federal workers.

The Espionage Act, enacted back in 1917 to punish those who gave aid to our enemies, was used three times in all the prior administrations to bring cases against government officials accused of providing classified information to the media. It has been used six times since the current president took office.
Setting aside the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst who is accused of stealing thousands of secret documents, the majority of the recent prosecutions seem to have everything to do with administrative secrecy and very little to do with national security.

In case after case, the Espionage Act has been deployed as a kind of ad hoc Official Secrets Act, which is not a law that has ever found traction in America, a place where the people’s right to know is viewed as superseding the government’s right to hide its business.

In the most recent case, John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer who became a Democratic staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was charged under the Espionage Act with leaking information to journalists about other C.I.A. officers, some of whom were involved in the agency’s interrogation program, which included waterboarding.

For those of you keeping score, none of the individuals who engaged in or authorized the waterboarding of terror suspects have been prosecuted, but Mr. Kiriakou is in federal cross hairs, accused of talking to journalists and news organizations, including The New York Times.
Mr. Tapper said that he had not planned on raising the issue, but hearing Mr. Carney echo the praise for reporters who dug deep to bring out the truth elsewhere got his attention.

“I have been following all of these case, and it’s not like they are instances of government employees leaking the location of secret nuclear sites,” Mr. Tapper said. “These are classic whistle-blower cases that dealt with questionable behavior by government officials or its agents acting in the name of protecting America.”

Mr. Carney said in the briefing that he felt it was appropriate “to honor and praise the bravery” of Ms. Colvin and Mr. Shadid, but he did not really engage Mr. Tapper’s broader question, saying he could not go into information about specific cases. He did not respond to an e-mail message seeking comment.
In one of the more remarkable examples of the administration’s aggressive approach, Thomas A. Drake, a former employee of the National Security Agency, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act last year and faced a possible 35 years in prison.

His crime? When his agency was about to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a software program bought from the private sector intended to monitor digital data, he spoke with a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. He suggested an internally developed program that cost significantly less would be more effective and not violate privacy in the way the product from the vendor would. (He turned out to be right, by the way.)

He was charged with 10 felony counts that accused him of lying to investigators and obstructing justice. Last summer, the case against him collapsed, and he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor, of misuse of a government computer.

Jesselyn Radack, the director for national security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project, was one of the lawyers who represented him.

“The Obama administration has been quite hypocritical about its promises of openness, transparency and accountability,” she said. “All presidents hate leaks, but pursuing whistle-blowers as spies is heavy-handed and beyond the scope of the law.”

Mark Corallo, who served under Attorney General John D. Ashcroft during the Bush administration, told Adam Liptak of The New York Times this month that he was “sort of shocked” by the number of leak prosecutions under President Obama. “We would have gotten hammered for it,” he said.

As Mr. Liptak pointed out, it has become easier to ferret out leakers in a digital age, but just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be.
These kinds of prosecutions can have ripples well beyond the immediate proceedings. Two reporters in Washington who work on national security issues said that the rulings had created a chilly environment between journalists and people who work at the various government agencies.

During a point in history when our government has been accused of sending prisoners to secret locations where they were said to have been tortured and the C.I.A. is conducting remote-controlled wars in far-flung places, it’s not a good time to treat the people who aid in the publication of critical information as spies.

And it’s worth pointing out that the administration’s emphasis on secrecy comes and goes depending on the news. Reporters were immediately and endlessly briefed on the “secret” operation that successfully found and killed Osama bin Laden. And the drone program in Pakistan and Afghanistan comes to light in a very organized and systematic way every time there is a successful mission.

There is plenty of authorized leaking going on, but this particular boat leaks from the top. Leaks from the decks below, especially ones that might embarrass the administration, have been dealt with very differently.

Outlook for the New Year: Tyranny in the forecast

by Paul Craig Roberts, source

The outlook for liberty is dismal. Those writers who are critical of Washington’s illegal wars and overthrow of the US Constitution could find themselves in indefinite detainment, because criticism of Washington’s policies can be alleged to be aiding Washington’s enemies, which might include charities that provide aid to bombed Palestinian children and flotillas that attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The Bush/Obama regimes have put the foundation in place for imprisoning critics of the government without due process of law. The First Amendment is being all but restricted to rah-rah Americans who chant USA! USA! USA! Washington has set itself up as world prosecutor, forever berating other countries for human rights violations, while Washington alone bombs half a dozen countries into the stone age and threatens several more with the same treatment, all the while violating US statutory law and the Geneva Conventions by torturing detainees.

Washington rounds up assorted foreign politicians, whose countries were afflicted with civil wars, and sends them off to be tried as war criminals, while its own war crimes continue to mount. However, if a person exposes Washington’s war crimes, that person is held without charges in conditions that approximate torture.

Bradley Manning is the case in point. Manning, a US soldier, is alleged to be the person who released to WikiLeaks the “Collateral Murder” video, which, in the words of Marjorie Cohn, “depicts U.S. forces in an Apache helicopter killing 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists. People trying to rescue the wounded were also fired upon and killed.”

One of the Good Samaritans was a father with two small children. The video reveals the delight that US military personnel experienced in blowing them away from the distant skies. When it became clear that the Warriors Bringing The People Democracy had blown away two small children, instead of remorse we hear an executioner’s voice saying: “that’s what he gets for bringing children into a war zone.”

The quote is from memory, but it is accurate enough. When I first saw this video, I was astonished at the brazen war crime. It is completely obvious that the dozen or so murdered people were simply people walking along a street, threatening no one, unarmed, doing nothing out of the ordinary. It was not a war zone. The horror is that the US soldiers were playing video games with live people. You can tell from their commentary that they were having fun by killing these unsuspecting people walking along the street. They enjoyed killing the father who stopped to help and shooting up his vehicle with the two small children inside.

This was not an accident of a drone, fed with bad information, blowing up a school full of children, or a hospital, or a farmer’s family. This was American soldiers having fun with high tech toys killing anyone that they could pretend might be an enemy.

When I saw this, I realized that America was lost. Evil had prevailed.

I was about to write that nothing has been done about the crime. But something was done about it. An American soldier who recognized the horrific war crime knew that the US military knew about it and had done nothing about it. He also knew that as a US soldier he was required to report war crimes. But to whom? War crimes dismissed as “collateral damage” are the greatest part of Washington’s 21st century wars.

A soldier with a moral conscience gave the video to WikiLeaks. We don’t know who the soldier is. Washington alleges that the soldier is Bradley Manning, but Washington lies every time it opens its mouth. So we will never know.

All we know is that retribution did not fall on the perpetrators of the war crime. It fell upon the two accused of revealing it—Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.

Manning was held almost two years without charges being presented to a court. In December’s pre-trial hearings, all Washington could come up with was concocted accusations. No evidence whatsoever. The prosecutor, a Captain Fein, told the court, if that is what it is, that Manning had been “trained and trusted to use multiple intelligence systems, and he used that training to defy that trust. He abused our trust.”

In other words, Manning gave the world the truth of a war crime that was being covered up, and Washington and the Pentagon regard a truth teller doing his duty under the US military code as an “abuser of trust.”

In the 1970 My Lai Courts-Martial of Captain Ernest L. Medina, the Prosecution Brief states:

“A combat commander has a duty, both as an individual and as a commander, to insure that humane treatment is accorded to noncombatants and surrendering combatants. Article 3 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War specifically prohibits violence to life and person, particularly murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture. Also prohibited are the taking of hostages, outrages against personal dignity and summary judgment and sentence. It demands that the wounded and sick be cared for. These same provisions are found in the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. While these requirements for humanitarian treatment are placed upon each individual involved with the protected persons, it is especially incumbent upon the commanding officer to insure that proper treatment is given.

“Additionally, all military personnel, regardless of rank or position, have the responsibility of reporting any incident or act thought to be a war crime to his commanding officer as soon as practicable after gaining such knowledge. Commanders receiving such reports must also make such facts known to the Staff Judge Advocate. It is quite clear that war crimes are not condoned and that every individual has the responsibility to refrain from, prevent and report such unwarranted conduct. While this individual responsibility is likewise placed upon the commander, he has the additional duty to insure that war crimes committed by his troops are promptly and adequately punished.”

At the National Press Club on February 17, 2006, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that “It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral.” General Pace said that the military is prohibited from committing crimes against humanity and that such orders and events must be made known.

However, when Manning followed the military code, his compliance with law was turned into a crime. Captain Fein goes on to tell the “court” [a real court would throw out the bogus charges, but Amerika no longer has real courts] that “ultimately, he aided the enemies of the United States by indirectly giving them intelligence through WikiLeaks.”

In other words, the “crime” is an unintended consequence of doing one’s duty—like the “collateral damage” of civilian casualties when drones, bombs, helicopter gunships, and trigger-happy troops kill women, children, aid workers, and village elders. Why is Washington only punishing Manning for the collateral damage attributed to him?

Captain Fein could not have put it any clearer. If you tell the truth and reveal Washington’s war crimes, you have aided the enemy. Captain Fein’s simple sentence has at one stroke abolished all whistleblower protections written into US statutory law and the First Amendment, and confined anyone with a moral conscience and sense of decency to indefinite detention and torture.

The illegal detention and treatment of Manning had a purpose, according to a number of informed people. Naomi Spencer, for example, writes that Manning’s long detention and delayed prosecution is designed to coerce Manning into implicating WikiLeaks in order that the US can extradite Julian Assange and either prosecute him as a terrorist or lock him away indefinitely in a military prison without any recourse to the courts, due process or the law.

Assange’s case is mysterious. Assange sought refuge in Sweden, where he was seduced by two women. Both admit that they had sexual intercourse with him voluntarily, but afterwards they have come forth with claims that as they were sleeping with him in the bed, he again had sexual intercourse with them, and that they had not approved this second helping and that he was asked to use a condom but did not.

The Swedish prosecutorial office, after investigating the charges, dismissed them. But, strangely, another Swedish prosecutor, a woman suspected of connections to Washington, resurrected the charges and is seeking to extradite Assange to Sweden from the UK for questioning.

The legal question is whether a prosecutor can seek extradition for investigative purposes. The UK Supreme Court thinks that this is a valid question, and has agreed to hear the case. Normally, extradition requests come from courts and are issued for persons formally charged with a crime. Sweden has not charged Assange with a crime.

– Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments.

Leaks for 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon 9

When Lebanese Promise to End Hezbollah, Say Israelis Friendly!

Al Manar

More scandals continue to be uncovered by the WikiLeaks documents of the July 2006 war, published by Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.

HARIRI WANTS A CHANCE

On Friday, the daily published a cable about a meeting that joined the head of the caretaker government Saad Hariri and US ambassador in Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman in Qoreitem on August 20, 2006. According to the cable, Hariri promised Feltman that he would “abolish” Hezbollah once the Lebanese army is consolidated. He claimed that that as long as the army is weaker than Hezbollah, then it should be in a less threatening position. The US administration should consolidate Lebanese state institutions, particularly the army, he added.

SANIORA WORRIED

In another cable, WikiLeaks quoted the head of the Lebanese government at the time of the war Fouad Saniora as assuring the Americans, who had a major role in the war, that what he called claims of victory by Hezbollah were “empty words” given the large number of casualties in Lebanon. He expressed fears that Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah would seek to topple his cabinet.

In the cable dated August 16, 2006, Saniora told then US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman that he was making every effort to deploy the Lebanese army as quick as possible in the south.

MURR: ISRAELIS FRIENDLY!

Then Defense Minister Elias Murr was not in a better situation.

According to a cable dated August 15, 2006, Murr told Feltman that the army’s position in the South should be bolstered “as soon as possible” in order to destroy Sayyed Nasrallah’s “rude and arrogant” rhetoric displayed during his August 14, 2006 speech.

Murr told the ambassador that the Israelis were “friendly, asking if the Lebanese army would deploy in the South” as soon as possible.

“The Israeli army’s performance during the war was weak, especially during the past two days when tens of Israeli soldiers were killed, which left Hezbollah with a sense of victory,” he noted. “The Israeli army has left us in a difficult position … They are the worst army in the world,” he went on to say, with a regret sense.

—————————————————————————————-

Cables of the US Embassy in Lebanon during the July 2006 war, published by Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.

WikiLeaks: Feltman Says Should Beat Iran in Reconstructing Lebanon

WikiLeaks: Elias Murr Says Army Presence in South Should be Bolstered to End Nasrallah’s Arrogant Rhetoric

WikiLeaks: Saniora Feared Hizbullah Would Topple his Cabinet

WikiLeaks: Hariri Promised Feltman to Abolish Hizbullah

WikiLeaks: Suleiman Asserted that Army Will Not Interfere in July War

Leaks for 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon 5

When Hezbollah Victory against “Israel” Turns to Be Disaster!

Al Manar

Day after another, the remains of the March 14 forces are uncovered in front of the whole world…

Currently seeking to disarm the Resistance in Lebanon, the mentioned forces seem to have a long history of battle with the Resistance.

They claim that Lebanon comes first in their eyes and they say that Israel is their enemy. Yet, they used to believe that the victory of Hezbollah against Israel would be a disaster. Hezbollah is a Resistance party seeking to defend the sovereignty and liberate the occupied land, while Israel is supposedly Lebanon’s sole enemy.

The previous conclusion was not made out of a treason strategy they always accuse their rivals of adopting but of registered cables of meetings at the US Embassy in Lebanon during the July 2006 war, published by Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.

HEZBOLLAH VICTORY… DISASTER!

According to a leaked US Embassy cable published exclusively in Al-Akhbar on Monday, the head of the Phalange party former President Amin Gemayel believed that Hezbollah victory in the July 2006 war would be a “disaster” for Lebanon.

The WikiLeaks cable spoke of a meeting between Gemayel and then US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffery Feltman during which the former President claimed that a Hezbollah victory would allow the party to completely control Lebanon and empower its Iranian and Syrian allies in the region.

Gemayel reportedly went on to claim that Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah “fooled everyone during the national dialogue and as a result, the Lebanese people started to turn against him.”

AOUN… SICK AND CRAZY!

Speaking with a US ambassador, supposedly a strange, Gemayel didn’t hesitate to assail a compatriot, the head of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc MP Michel Aoun as ‘sick’ and ‘crazy’.

Gemayel reportedly described Aoun as “reckless, sick, and crazy.” He accused the Free Patriotic Movement leader of being opportunistic, and claimed that he is committing to his alliance with Hezbollah and Syria because he is banking on them having the upper hand in the Lebanese crisis. He went on to claim that Aoun is now allied with Hezbollah and Syria because he believes that they may fulfill his wish of becoming president.

SANIORA HAS GIVEN HEZBOLLAH CHANCE TO DISARM!

Like Gemayel, former Prime Minister Fouad Saniora didn’t hesitate to tell the Americans his wishes to see Hezbollah disarmed.

According to a WikiLeaks cable published by al-Akhbar daily on Monday, Saniora said he expects Hezbollah to disappear from the south, and explained that the Resistance couldn’t lie “in the same bed with the Lebanese army and UNIIFL.”

According to the cable, Saniora told ambassadors of the permanent members of the UN Security Council on August 14, 2006 that he had given Hezbollah a chance “to disarm immediately or after the Israeli withdrawal or hand over its arms to the Lebanese army.”

The ex-prime minister also said that making promises to solve the issue of the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms would help disarm Hezbollah.

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WikiLeaks: Gemayel Said Hizbullah Victory in War Will be a Disaster for Lebanon

WikiLeaks: Saniora Predicted that Hizbullah Would Vanish from South

WikiLeaks: Jumblat and Hamadeh Lamented Israel’s Weakness in 2006 War

Leaks for 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon 4

Leaks for 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon 3

Leaks for 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon 2

Leaks for 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon

The negotiators made no effort to defend and uphold the right of return

by Dr. Daud Abdullah, source

At a meeting with the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, on 18 February 2008, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner commended the Palestinian approach on the refugee issue, describing it as “wise”. This plaudit was only given after the Palestinian negotiators had confirmed their distinction between recognition of the right of return in principle and its actual implementation. Any agreement founded on this basis would, of course, move the Israelis one step closer toward realizing their dream of a pure “Jewish state”.

Kouchner did not stop at praising the Palestinian negotiators; according to Al Jazeera’s Palestine Papers he encouraged them to communicate their position to the people directly affected, the refugees themselves: “Implementing the right of return would not mean asking Israel to allow the return of millions of refugees.”

The international consensus and resolutions on the subject indicate that the right of return is an individual, not a collective, right which cannot be removed by a third party. It is also understood to mean that refugees have a right to repatriation, restitution and compensation, although for many years the Palestinians have been called upon by western mediators to accept the latter two only, and relinquish the right to repatriation. In other words, no return to their “homes and property” as advocated by UN resolution 3236 (1974).

Every aspect of the proposal lauded by the French is offensive. It seeks to compound the injustice of expulsion with the injustice of permanent exile. To the seven million Palestinians in the diaspora any such agreement would be the ultimate injustice inflicted on them; not only by the Israelis, but also by their own leadership.

When Ehud Olmert made his offer to Mahmoud Abbas on 31 August 2008, Israel’s position was confined to recognition of Palestinian “suffering”; there was no recognition of Palestinians’ rights. Yet, it was the PLO which later summarized the offer in an internal confidential memo stating that Israel would in the preamble of the future agreement “acknowledge the suffering of – but not responsibility for – Palestinian refugees”.

Shortly before that, on 26 March 2008, the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU) communicated the talking points for a meeting with the Israeli negotiator, Tal Becker, regarding the recognition of refugee rights. That document included this: “The PLO will pursue the recognition of all refugees’ rights and their satisfaction with particular care, especially since these are individual rights. The Palestinian leadership is however ready to negotiate their implementation in order to accommodate to the two-state solution.”

The document recommended “an explicit reference to the principle of the recognition of the right of return to ensure that the refugees themselves ‘buy into’ the agreement. However, the provision referring to this right would also stress that the desire for return will have to be adapted to current realities and the objective of the two-state solution. In practice, return would be limited to Israel’s absorption capacity.”

If Israel could not allow the return of the Palestinian refugees because it has a limited “absorption capacity”, why didn’t the Palestinians insist that Israel abrogates its Law of Return, which affords the right to Jews anywhere in the world to migrate to Israel and be guaranteed automatic and full rights of citizenship? It appears, therefore, that there was a certain convergence of interests between the two parties to enable Israel to preserve its Jewish identity and demographic majority.

On 22 January 2008, at a meeting attended by Ahmad Qurei’, Dr Saeb Erekat and Salah Ilayan on the Palestinian side, and Tzipi Livni on the Israeli side, Livni’s position was clear: “I don’t want to deceive anybody. There’ll be no Israeli official whether from the Knesset or the government or even the public who will support the return of refugees to Israel.”

Moreover, Livni had on more than one occasion emphasized her preference for a population exchange that would facilitate the removal of Palestinians from Israel to the proposed Palestine state. Here, it must be recalled that there are within Israel itself more than 250,000 Palestinians who were driven from their homes and villages in 1948 and have, until today, been denied the right to return, even though they still live in the Zionist state.

The fact that Israeli negotiators refuse to acknowledge, and of which the Palestinians fail to remind them, was that Israel was admitted into the UN on condition that it allows the refugees to return to their homes (UN resolution 273, 1949).

The general thrust of the Palestinian Papers suggests that ultimately Palestinian refugees will be settled either in the Palestinian state or elsewhere, but not in the “homes and land” from which they were expelled in 1948 which are now inside Israel. The negotiators on both sides are clearly guilty of trying to confuse the individual right of return with the collective right to self-determination. In principle, neither right should be curtailed at the expense of the other. The right of the individual must be preserved, irrespective of the outcome of the collective struggle for self-determination.

Instead of upholding the right of return as an inalienable right, meaning one which is not subject to negotiation, debate or review, in a confidential paper the PLO negotiators discussed an international mechanism to resolve the refugee issue and absolve Israel of its obligation to allow them to exercise their right: “An international mechanism shall be established, with the participation of Palestine, Israel, the host countries and other stakeholder countries and entities] [I: the parties have agreed to invite the United States, in coordination with them, to establish and lead an international mechanism]”

The Palestinian leadership, it seems, has a very short memory, for when the 1978 Camp David accord left it up to Egypt and Israel to resolve the problem of the Palestinian refugees by “agreed procedures”, the UN declared “that the Camp David accords and other agreements have no validity in so far as they purport to determine the future of the Palestinian people and of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967”.

The very notion that Palestinian return was made dependent on an agreement meant that Israel was effectively granted a veto in this matter. The General Assembly declared further that: “The validity of agreements purporting to solve the problem of Palestine requires that they lie within the framework of the United Nations Charter and its resolutions on the basis of the full attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.” [33/28, December 1978]

Any agreement undertaken by the Palestinian negotiators that seeks to undermine or compromise the right of the refugees to return to their homes would be null and void. While they discuss with the Israelis the terms of compensation, without repatriation, individual refugees must themselves resist this surrender of their rights, because their sons and daughters may want to return. In this regard, Article 8 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is clear: “Protected persons may in no circumstances renounce in part or in entirety the rights secured to them by the present Convention.”

The revelations contained in the Palestine Papers on the refugees are the latest in a series that began after the 1993 Oslo Accords, all engineered and promoted by the same persons. They reflect a determined and concerted effort to jeopardize this right. Starting with the Abu Mazin-Yossi Beilin document of October 1995 to the Geneva accord of October 2003, the reader discerns a pattern of proposals devised to obstruct and deny the exercise of the right of return. It is inexplicable, therefore, that despite all the legal guarantees in their favour, the Palestinian representatives have not made the slightest effort to take advantage of them. Instead, they have chosen to rely on their personal “creative” skills and the goodwill of the Israelis and Americans, both of which have been demonstrably inadequate. Given the imbalance in the political relationship between the parties, the only way to ensure the restoration of Palestinian rights is to adhere to international legality.

Dr Daud Abdullah is the director of the Middle East Monitor – an independent media research institution founded in the United Kingdom to foster a fair and accurate coverage in the Western media of Middle Eastern issues and in particular the Palestine Question.